Interview conducted by Carcassbomb
This week I got the chance to talk to one of Brisbane’s busiest but chillest musicians, Brendan Auld who is in a lot of great projects. He had a noticeable impact in the global underground with his recent release II by Snorlax but he is also a part of the awesome death metal/hardcore band Descent who are opening for Cattle Decapitation and Revocation in Brisbane on the 13th of Feb, Tickets Here. The following interview was transcribed from a phone call I had with Brendan and has been edited for presentation. It’s quite an insightful look into the motivations of the man behind Snorlax, a project that due to it’s dark sound and visual aesthetic along with the name, raised some eyebrows and perhaps even caused confusion.
Snorlax is a solo project, as such do you find you’re getting a lot of coverage as a band?
Yeah, everyone seems to be writing reviews and everything just sort of seems as though they’re talking about a full band so it’s kinda strange (laughs). But it’s cool, if the music is being interpreted at the same point and listeners just think “Alright, this is a whole band playing the music” and it gets heard that way and no one knows the difference then that’s fine with me. Those songs were just written in the recording process and played piece by piece, the songs have never been played live with a band in any circumstance at all. Yeah it’s awesome.
The name Snorlax, obviously it’s a name very known because of Poke’Mon, is Poke’mon something that you’re really into?
Nah not really, I mean I played the GameBoy games when I was super young but I dunno, the name Snorlax just kind of came to me when I was out walking my dog one day because there was a band called Gutalax and they do these ridiculous vocals and it’s kind of like a cheesy gimmick, I think anyway (laughs). Originally I was going to play some doom, but more death doom kind of stuff and so the name Snorlax seemed kind of fitting but I was just doing it as a joke. And then when I took the songs a bit more seriously and put them up and everyone took it seriously I was like “Oh shit…okay” (laughs), maybe I should have given it a proper name.
Well if Poke’Mon wasn’t a thing “Snorlax” would be a pretty black metal sounding name (laughs)
Yeah and it’s kind of funny to just trigger black metal fans that know what Poke’Mon are but hate the fact that I’ve used as a title. They know what it is and that sort of almost like “Well you’re a nerd as well man” (laughs) You know, like being a metal fan is essentially being a nerd, it’s not really much different from being a nerd about Poke’Mon or something like that, so just just pointing out the fact that you connected these dots yourself by stopping and going “Oh, what’s that? What’s that sound like? I wanna hear that”.
You’re in a lot of other projects as well, do you want to run me through what projects you’re currently in?
Descent is my main serious band. We play a fair bit of shows and that’s the one we all put more effort into and take seriously. Josh, the other guitarist from Descent and I, we have a little project called Necroseptic which is like short grind songs that I play drums on and he played guitar and out friend Kuchler recorded the vocals for that. That’s not a serious thing, that’s just like a fun little studio project.
I was playing guitar in a band called Siberian Hell Sounds which is on a bit of a break at the moment and with the guys in that band I also had another side project called Consumed which was essentially Siberian but I was playing drums. Since then, myself and a few of the guys from Siberian Hell Sounds and Jim, the bass player of Descent, have a new band that will be coming out this year called Resin Tomb. Finally, I’ve got another band that I’ve started, it’s just sort of like straight up death metal that I’m playing drums on with a couple of other younger guys from Brisbane. It’s called Feculent and that’ll be coming out this year as well.
I haven’t heard of the last ones so that’s awesome.
Yeah, those last two are totally new and we haven’t even put out demos yet. As soon as my studio is finished we are going to record those.
So you’re a multi instrumentalist, how’d you end up getting into that?
Originally I had a band called Dire Wolf and we wanted to go to Melbourne and record with Roman Koester, the guy from The Red Shore, but when it came to booking the flights and stuff, the bass player and the other guitarist didn’t really want to come so I was kind of forced to just learn how to record on bass properly and that sort of thing. And so playing bass has come pretty natural to me but it wasn’t until I had some drummers in bands quit music for a while and stuff like that, and there was a bit of a shortage on drummers in Brisbane in general there for a little while.
So more out of frustration of not being able to start bands and do things. I would just play my mates kit that he left at my house and I picked it up pretty quickly so I didn’t buy my first drum kit until 2016 or something like that. I just kind of tried really hard to practice everyday and get as far as I could but I’ve always just focused on learning the songs that I wanna play not necessarily learning how to be a good drummer (laughs). So yeah, any real drummers who watch me play are gonna be like “What the fuck is he doing?”.
You’re also heavily investing in the recording of things with Black Blood Audio, do you do a lot of the recording and post stuff for your projects?
We’re always recording demos and stuff in my rehearsal space, jam room studio sort of set up. The one I’m building now is a lot more of a proper studio but yeah, all my bands I’ve generally done most of the stuff. With Descent for example we sent off to be mixed by Taylor Young from Nails, so some projects we will get other people to work on. Siberian Hell Sounds for example I recorded everything and then we sent it to a guy called Simon from a band called Aversio Humanitatis to mix and he did a great job so I got him to master Snorlax for me but yeah generally I’ll do all the recording and the mixing and stuff as well.
I’ve got a friend called Mark Perry who does a lot of recording of punk bands in Brisbane and he’ll usually come in and help engineer drums and guitars where I can’t be doing two things at once. He’s great so he’s worked with all my bands and Descent’s drummer Kingsley’s other band Scumguts, Mark recorded their album so he knows what we’re after and we just work super well together. He puts up with our shenanigans basically.
With Snorlax, is there an underlying theme or premise to this project?
I guess it kinda started… I was just writing music for myself, I’d be at home writing music and the stuff I was writing didn’t really fit with any of the bands that I was in. I showed a few people the songs just mucking around, nothing too serious and they were all like “this is pretty good you should actually put it out”. Yeah, it was never meant to be anything serious it just sort of came out and I dunno, some people liked it, so I might as well do some more and that led me taking it a bit more seriously from there.
So II is kind of like me actually trying to have a crack, ninety percent I guess (laughter). The lyrics are still just like rambling metaphors that don’t really have any central theme and they were more written because I liked the vocal structuring or the way things sounded. Not necessarily the words or the message or meaning behind any of it and I’m just a big fan of Necrofrost so, the artwork is what it is. It’s not even really tied to a theme either.
How’d you end up getting in contact with Necro Frost? I’ve seen them on a lot of underground Aussie covers like Carcinoid that are just awesome.
Yeah, he’s great to work with man. I actually commissioned two or three other pieces before that one and they’d sort of come back and I’d go “alright, let’s tweak it a little bit” and the artist was sort of reluctant and obviously Bursky from Brilliant Emperor has pretty high standards of artwork and stuff like that as well. There was probably two proper finished ones that I had that I ended up scrapping. I used Nec Frost on a previous split that I did with Drugoth and he’d done a few other things like a T-shirt design for Descent.
It was super easy, I sent him my reference and the first thing that he sent back to me was perfect. It was exactly what you see on the cover and it was bang on so I said that’s the one, that’s it. He is very reasonably priced and he doesn’t… Sometimes artists can take things too far, they’ll get their own creative influence and take it in a direction that you didn’t really see in the first place, so he’s really good in that sense that he just kinda takes your most simple description and makes it as awesome as he possibly can. All of his designs I’ve been really happy with, I’ll continue to use him for sure.
Speaking of Brilliant Emperor Records, you have a vinyl out through them. Is this the first time Snorlax has had a vinyl?
Yeah, this is the first time… Except for a split we did with Siberian Hell Sounds, this is pretty much the first time any of my music has come out on vinyl so, pretty exciting. I’m pretty happy about it being a vinyl collector myself, it sort of means something to me to have a physical copy that will last hopefully longer than I do. That was definitely an achievement for me.
Snorlax’ latest album II got quite a positive reaction even outside of Australia, how are you feeling about this world wide reception of the album at this point?
It’s kinda strange because I wish Descent had got that well received… but it’s kinda strange actually. I’ve had offers to go play festivals in Mexico and stuff like that and I’m sort of having to reply to people and just explain that it’s not a real band (laughs). Who knows, if the right offer comes along maybe I’ll put a band together and go do something like that, but yeah. It’s kinda cool to see that it doesn’t really matter where you come from, it doesn’t really matter what your background is, if your music is good people will listen to it.
I think that’s the bottom line, if you put out something that people are going to want to listen to, it doesn’t matter how much money you spent on the production or how cool the video clip was, if it’s good people will hear it and they’ll want to share it with other metal enthusiasts. So it’s really cool in that sense. No language barrier or anything like that, I’ve been getting messages from people all over Europe, North America, South America. It’s really cool, they all just want to be like “Hey man this sounds cool, from Brazil” or wherever they’re from and they don’t want anything in return, they just want to reach out and say G’day, it’s a nice feeling.
We are both in the Brisbane music scene, do you have any favorite bands from here?
As far as Brisbane bands go I’m a pretty big Shackles fan so any time they go play I’ll generally make an effort to go watch them. I am mates with those guys but above anything I really love and respect their music, so huge shout out to them. As far as local shows and stuff go, there’s not really one particular show that stands out. Everyone I know in Brisbane seems to be really cool. Everyone gets along, there’s not too much beef between bands or anything like that, that I see. There’s definitely different crowds and what not but generally everyone gets along and I think that’s a pretty cool thing. I don’t know what it’s like in other cities but usually you’ll see similar faces at pretty much all different genres of shows, so like a hardcore show or a doom show or whatever you’re going to see familiar faces a both. I think it’s really good that everyone just supports everyone.
Is there another release in the works for Snorlax?
Not at this stage, I’m very much focused on finishing off the new control room for the studio. As soon as that’s done it’s gonna be just sort of recording all my own projects to work out the kinks before I get too many other peoples bands in. So I’ll go ahead and do that Feculent band that I’ve started, I’ll do a demo for that. I’ll do an EP for Resin Tomb and then, probably get a bunch of other mates bands that have been bugging me for a while and get them through and record all of them first.
Honestly, Snorlax isn’t a huge priority, I probably wouldn’t put anything out again until at least 2021. Maybe a split or something like that but i’ll probably wait ages before I try and write a Snorlax full length because I think a lot of the ideas that I would have used for Snorlax have now become Resin Tomb’s so, that has a few other people invested in it, so it makes more sense to me to invest that effort into a group thing with other people putting in their time and patience as well. I dunno, I feel quite greedy doing Snorlax if I’m using up good ideas on something that doesn’t help my bandmates or is really just for my own sort of satisfaction.
Do you prefer playing with other people more than the solo recording process?
Yeah definitely, yeah. I think jamming out songs in a room and just playing through things and sort of making sure it feels right to play as opposed to just sort of making the ideas sound cool after the production side of it. That seems to work a lot better. Focusing more on how playing it as a group creates a feeling or an energy in the room that you can sort of steer in a direction that goes with the theme of the music or something that you’re aiming for as opposed to me just having a riff idea and being like “Alright well that’s my instinct, is to put this beat along with that riff” and build a song that way. I always get what I want out of it but it’s not necessarily anything outside of the box or groundbreaking so collaborating with other people is super important to me.
What are some of your major music influences?
The last couple of years I’ve gotten into a lot of black metal crossover bands, I’m a huge fan of a band from Belgium called Wiegedood, it’s essentially a couple of members from Amenra and Oathbreaker doing just like, seven minute black metal tracks that are all really really furious. I listened to a lot of that. This week I’ve been getting into that Teeth record from last year (The Curse Of Entropy). The one with the really colorful cover, it doesn’t sound anything like the cover would lead you to believe. Another band called Of Feather And Bone, their last record (Bestial Hymns of Perversion) was pretty full on. The new Disentomb (The Decaying Light), I really liked that album.
If something really jumps out and grabs me on the first listen I won’t hesitate to order the vinyl. If you scrolled past my instagram for the last six months I’ve pretty much posted all the albums that I’ve been really digging like the latest Artificial Brain album (Infrared Horizon), that grabbed me immediately. Heaps of 3/4 blasting with really dissonant kind of weird sort of riffs.Just sick oil paintings, every time it gets me.
Apart from that, I’m obviously a big fan of all the classics like your Slayer and everything else. I try to stay on top of all the good heavy stuff thats coming out but there’s so much nowadays that it’s so hard. Like that Teeth album didn’t land on my radar till a couple of weeks ago so you can never quite be sure that you’ve heard everything cool that’s coming out. Sometimes the best shit isn’t being spoken about until months later when people dig it up out of the underground.
Have you found that as an Australian musicians there’s specific barriers to you achieving your goals?
Yeah, I sort of have no hopes… like there’s no foreseeable future where we’re going to be able to tour America with any of the bands, that just seems really far fetched at the moment. Touring Europe seems a little bit more likely, but yeah. Getting your music out to the right people is definitely achievable if you know the right avenues to take… but all my little personal goals that are really really far fetched and will probably never happen. They’re a massive barrier, like playing Maryland Deathfest or something like that would be amazing but physically getting a whole band together over there and making it feasible is near impossible. Not that I love touring, because it is a pretty hard slog, unless that’s the lifestyle you want but it would be cool to tour a lot more. Even just touring Australia is super expensive, like trying to justify driving a thousand kilometers to play a show to a hundred people and not really make any money back. You can only really do it once a year, otherwise you’re just throwing money away.
It doesn’t help that all of our cities are so far apart.
Yeah It’s a shame, Descent’s not even been to Perth yet just because it’s such a long way to travel and to book more than one show on a trip like that is even quite difficult. We’ll get there eventually but yeah being an Australian band doesn’t necessarily make it harder for you to get your music heard, it just makes it a lot harder to go overseas and tour anywhere.
Thanks heaps to Brendan for the interesting interview. I’m looking forward to those new projects and possibly even seeing Descent open for Cattle Decapitation on the the 13th of Feb.